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Environ Res. 1993 Oct;63(1):122-32.

A cross-sectional survey of neurobehavioral effects of chronic solvent exposure on workers in a paint manufacturing plant.

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Industrial Health Unit, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.


Neurobehavioral impairments in 84 workers with long-term exposure to organic solvents in a paint manufacturing plant were examined cross sectionally. The World Health Organization (WHO) Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery, the NES-2 computerized battery, and four additional South African tests were used. Exposure to solvents was determined by using company industrial hygiene data as well as from an industrial hygiene survey of current total solvent levels in air. Indexes for cumulative exposure and average lifetime intensity of exposure were calculated for groups of homogeneously exposed workers in each department. Exposure levels were below the AGGIH threshold limit values. Multiple linear regression revealed that education level, age, and alcohol consumption were strong predictors for several neurobehavioral test scores. After adjusting for potential confounding from this source, average lifetime intensity of solvent exposure was the most significant predictor of the NES-2 Continuous performance test (measuring sustained visual attention) score of the WHO Digit span backward test score (measuring attention span and double tracking). Pursuit aiming (measuring fine visuomotor tracking speed) was significantly associated with the cumulative exposure index, possibly indicating early neurotoxic effects.

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